Two Major Mental Health Bills Introduced in Senate
I. The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945)
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945), legislation to "comprehensively overhaul and strengthen America's mental health care system."
A bill to make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis, and for other purposes
The bill addresses many of the same issues as the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" (HR 2646) introduced by Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-La.) in the House of Representatives, although there are differences between the two bills as well.
II. The Mental Health and Safe Communities Act
This week, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX.) introduced the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, a bill which has not yet been assigned a number. The major focus of the bill is on preventing unnecessary incarceration of people with mental illness and enhanced treatment and services for individuals with mental illness while incarcerated and following release.
The bill specifies that federal resources should be used to expand programs with proven effectiveness such as:
Pre-trial screening and jail diversion programs
Mental Health Courts
Veterans Treatment Courts
Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs for law enforcement and other first responders
Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) programs
Other evidence based approaches.
The House and Senate have adjourned for August recess and will be returning to Washington after Labor Day. It is expected that both chambers will begin deliberations on several mental health bills, including the two described above, when they return. We will shortly send out an advocacy update with more detailed information about these bills as well as actions you can take during recess to advocate for passage. (NAMI News Release)
Read more about The Mental Health and Safe Communities Act: